Would you rather work or play paintball?

July 5, 2007

I’m calling the lady who answers the phone in our office a secretary whether it’s politically correct to do so or not…
Anyway, the secretary walks from office to office here at my place of employment taking a survey and bearing a pad in her bony hands, stops at my door and says in her shrill Cleveland accent: “At the office retreat would you rather work or do paintball?”
paintball-01-50pct.jpgNot being a fan of fantasy violence, per se, but being even less a fan of work, I responded without hesitation: “Paintball…I guess.”

(BTW, this guy in the pic ain’t me.)

Hey, who knows, this aiming-and-firing- a-weapon thing could be a survival skill that might come in handy when the United States collapses into anarchy in the near future due to continued conservative fiscal and social irresponsibility.
This paintball thing comes at an interesting convergence of stuff that’s been a happenin’ lately to moi.
Last week at Goodwill I spied quite by accident and on a whim scarfed up a spanking new copy of the “U.S. Army Survival Guide” (2002 edition) for 50 cents. I mean, knowing how to dig a vole trap or assemble and tie off a tourniquet made from saplings and torn cloth or recognizing edible/inedible plants and dangerous snakes or how to keep a life raft afloat in stormy water could be useful knowledge, wot?
Over the weekend, for some inexplicable reason I had a hankerin’ to play a good ole Playstation first-person shooter, Star Wars Battlefront, which I used to be pretty good at and found out that I still was pretty good at—even though the virtual reality constant motion made me nauseous after a few hours.
My next brush with entertainment violence came in the past few days, as I had a jones to catch up on some obvious hit movies that I had missed, but which have conveniently been laying in a pile in the basement in my middle son’s DVD collection. This haul included Master and Commander, Hotel Rwanda and Gladiator. Lots of Russell Crowe being manly and commanding and warrior-like in a couple of those.
Oh, and a revisitation of Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine was in order, too. Oddly, on this viewing, I found myself more sympathetic to the viewpoint of the militia types in the movie, though not so much for Terry Nichols.
All pumped up from that lot, I went to my sister’s house yesterday for her annual Fourth of July illegal fireworks fun. Lots of rockets and ‘plosions in the driveway and throughout the surrounding neighborhood. We ‘Murkins loves our ‘plosions. The boys found some plastic toy soldiers and lit firecrackers under them and the limbs went a flyin.’ Perhaps for obvious reasons (eg., the state of things) I found this distasteful.
But, the coup de grace, my friends, I found out that my sister owns a paintball gun!
Here was my chance to get a leg up on the office competition. I’d get some experience firing this baby so when retreat time came, I blow away my fellow co-workers—or at least splay them with multicolored painterly marksmanship. Encouraging office workers to shoot one another … sounds like responsible management 101 to somebody I guess.
With all this smorgasbord of mayhem from which to choose, no wonder three parts ignorance and 1 part adrenaline constantly leads us into, well, what it leads us into…
God bless Amurka!
Evan G

(Dumb Bus Sign) “It’s the Law!”; or, Whatever the Hell, ‘It’s’ Is; or, The Law According to TARC

June 1, 2007

You’re an underpaid bureaucrat. You’ve just been given an assignment for which you are woefully inadequate.

And you accept it. Why? Because, what the hell else are you gonna do with your time except surf clandestinely for porn on the computer?

100_0576-10.jpg“Write me a sign for posting inside the buses,” says your super. You accept the assignment.

“Now,” continues your super, “We want to write this sign so that we don’t frighten the patrons. We need a sign telling people that they are safe on the bus, but the sign can’t say what they are protected from. Can you manage that?”

Of course you can. You are a bureaucrat. You know double-speak.

So, maybe you are qualified for this job after all.

Thanks to you, anonymous sign writer, your ambiguously comforting message greets me every morning as I step aboard a Transit Authority of River City (TARC) bus, in good ole Louisville, Ky.

And here’s what it says:

“Chapter # 70.50 of the Louisville Metro, Kentucky Code of Ordinances protects bus drivers, passengers, and property of the public transportation system by providing for prosecution of any person convicted of violating this law.”

I asked a fellow passenger, a lawyer, to read this sign and interpret it for me.

He could only smile, nod his head in confusion and offer no explanation.

In the grand tradition of government agency doublespeak, this tortured sentence coils around like a snake eating itself, nealty circling upon itself and devouring itself into oblivion.

It’s the law … but what is “it“?

Or more precisely, what is the law protecting me from? Just what has to occur on the bus before a perpetrator can be prosecuted for violating this law? What would he or she have to perpetrate?

The sign offers no clue.

Does it encompass vandalism, assault, bad breath? What?

And, aren’t there already plenty of laws on the books saying that assault, vandalism and the like are verboten, regardless of where you are? Why does there need to be a special one just for the bus?

That’s assuming, of course, that these crimes are what the law is about.

On top of that, check out the last part of the sentence. The sign seems to say that perpetrators of the undefined deed or deeds will be prosecuted after they’re “convicted” of violating the law. Huh? Sounds a little like a George Bush “Patriot Act/Guantanamo” sort of understanding of how the law works.

But you can’t blame the bureaucrat for doing his job; only the dimwit supervisor who approved this goofy sign.

its-man.jpgSeeking answers from my city government, I consulted the Louisville Metro government web site and came up emptyhanded trying to find out what the ordinance actually says. A phone call yielded a friendly, “I don’t know” and the promise of a classic runaround in the form of the phone number of another bureaucrat who had left for the day.

So, I still don’t know exactly what Ordinance number 70.50 actually says.

Maybe I need to ask Bill Clinton. He once pondered the question of semantics during the Monika Lewinsky scandal, wondering aloud what the meaning of “it” is; or was it what ‘is” is? Oh, that’s so long ago now.

Or maybe I’ll call the “It’s” Man from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Maybe he’ll know what “it’s” means.

But I won’t get my hopes up. He’d probably just huff out an exasperating “it’s…” before collapsing to the ground—leaving the mystery tantalizingly unsolved.

Whatever the case, I can feel comforted to know that the magic bus sign on TARC, with it’s forceful message, will keep me safe from harm.

Whatever that may be.


This is Why Cities Get Sued

May 23, 2007

100_0451.jpgWhat you’re looking at here is a foot-and-a-half deep hole on Langdon Drive next to Rolling Hills Plaza (a few steps away from the Dollar Tree) just off Westport Road in eastern Jefferson County (Louisville), Ky. This thing has been inviting car tires and unwary night walkers and bikers to fall into it for months now. It’s been there at least two months without anything being done about it, although I noticed this past weekend that somebody had finally at least put a caution horse with a reflector around it.

Somehow our society has money to waste in Iraq but not enough to fix minor yet potentially dangerous infrastructure problems like these. It’s about priorities, folks.


We Need the Crying Indian Again

May 1, 2007

crying-indian_fullhead80p.jpgLike every issue, global warming—or global climate change to be precise—has become an either-or, polarizing, divisive issue between the Left and the Right; between science and religion: Either you believe humans are causing it or you don’t. And if we are, then we need to change the way we live.

The crux of all this for the Righties, of course, is that anytime anyone is asked to change their habits then that must mean a Commie plot is afoot to take away their freedoms and steal away their Amurkin way o’ life.

So, that leaves us at an impasse in which the Rightie-Corporate-led government undermines science and does all it can to keep us from changing our ways.

For the record, I side with the scientific consensus and with Al Gore. I think that we have to dramatically decrease our greenhouse gas emissions. I do my part: riding the bus and biking every day, walking and no longer driving a car.

And guess what? I manage to get to work even though I live 20 miles away—and even manage to finish a book while in transit every few weeks. And I feel healthier, too.

People who say that cars are the only way are just lazy, whiny, wimpy bastards. I find it ironic that all the tough-talking SUV, Hummer, and 4×4 pickup types act like they’re the shit, when it’s “sissy liberals” like me who better exemplify the classic, pioneering, American can-do progressive spirit. I get out there on the road on a bike, and I manage to find a way to get it done. Most of these dependent fatsos know that they can’t bring their suckling, coddled cottage-cheese asses to do it, so they wimp out and sit their overweight carcasses right back into their plush rich corinthian leather and protect their timid little selves from the elements.

And furthermore, I’m installing those ice-cream-cone-style curly energy saving lightbulbs in my lamps. It will save me money, and that’s something that even polluters and energy wasters just might understand.

And there’s more I intend to do.

Even so, there’s one other thing that I think we possibly need to stop doing.

And that’s to stop arguing about global warming. In fact, I say let’s take global warming off the table, period.

crying-indian-silhouette75p.jpgAs long as the issue continues to be divisive, nothing useful is going to get done.

It’s time to look to the past and reframe the issue: This is about pollution.

Whether pollution causes global warming or not, nobody with any kind of sense can argue that pollution is good for anybody or anything.

Breathing toxic air and drinking toxic water is indisputably a bad thing.
No argument.

So let’s get the issue back to where it was in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
At that time the message was simple: Pollution is bad; let’s stop it.

As a result, the momentum swung against pollution, and polluters. Even a Republican president, Richard Nixon, was eager to put strong laws on the books.

And, like then, we need to find one strong, simple symbol that makes the issue easily, starkly understood. Something like the “Crying Indian.”

Anybody out there who’s over 35 knows what I’m talking about.

In 1971, one of the most dramatic and powerful public service ads ever made was first broadcast—and it was shown for years repeatedly throughout the 1970’s.crying-indian-tear65p.jpg

Rowing his canoe through sludge and silhouetted against a nasty pink smog-laden sky, the great crying Indian sets foot on Modern America—only to suffer the indignity of fast-food garbage thrown at his feet.

If you haven’t seen the ad before, then you can catch it here at good ole Youtube:

So I say again, let’s make the issue pollution; not global warming.

The rest will follow.


Dirty Skanky Bus Seat, Part II

March 13, 2007

Part II of my ongoing log of Transit Authority of River City (TARC) dirty bus seats (see part one), brings us this gem encountered on the last number 49 express bus going west, on this fine morn of March 13 in the Year of Our Lord 2007.


Sorry about the photo quality; it’s hard to get a sharp image with the bus rattling.

As you can see there’s some sort of black nebulae swirling about in some cosmic dusty haze and punctuated by a nice mystery white spot in the middle—perhaps a comet or white dwarf.

This bus had an especially ample selection of filthy bus seats today.

My offer to TARC executives still stands. Please ride on your own buses once in awhile. And, if you can’t, get them cleaned anyway.